New trend on the rise: sustainable logistic parks | BR Interview w/ Adrian Pop, Architect & Green Buildings Expert

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 06/05/2021 | 14:01

The pandemic brought change in all business areas, but one of the most important drivers of change during the last year was the e-commerce industry, which created an increased demand for logistics spaces. Over the past year, the logistics segment has had a sharp expansion, a large number of transactions and leases were made and also, innovative capital solutions have been used. In this aspect, an important role has been played by the environmental certification of buildings.

During 2020, CTP, the largest developer of logistics facilities in Central and Eastern Europe, certified according to the BREEAM standard its approximately 300 buildings in Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia and Poland. ADP has been appointed as consultant and auditor for CTP’s building portfolio in Romania, which is the second largest CTP market, after the Czech Republic. Business Review talked with architect Adrian Pop, Manager & Sustainability Consultant at ADP and Board Member of the Romanian Green Building Council, about this new trend of the logistics space sector.


Where does the demand for more sustainable logistics spaces come from?

The entire built environment must adapt to new requirements and have a reduced impact on the surroundings.

As a market leader, CTP wants to offer the best logistics spaces, with low consumption, high quality and resilient construction elements, good comfort conditions for workspaces, a lower impact on the built environment and generally, more pleasant workspaces and exteriors. But with great power comes great responsibility and a BREEAM certification is an excellent framework in which these objectives can be understood and applied. On the other hand the obtained certification at the end of the process becomes a validation of the Environmental Social Governance (ESG) implementation.

Investors know that an environmental certification increases the value of the building. The Building Research Establishment mentions that a certified building is 8-12% more valuable. It depends, of course, on what the certified building is compared to, but there is certainly an increase in the value of that building. As a result, the environmental certification of buildings is also a great tool for consolidating the building`s value, useful when a company intends to go public, when it is going to sell a part of its buildings, or when it aims to attract capital.

Green bond issuance, which has become increasingly popular lately, is based on green buildings certification and an investment plan to improve energy efficiency, reduce pollution, protect biodiversity, increase mobility and accessibility etc., measures to be used to attract funds through the green bonds issuance.

What kind of certifications are used and how does it work?

In order to certify the warehouses we used 2 types of certifications.

For the new buildings we used BREEAM New Construction, which focuses on checking and optimizing the building from its design stage, so we can be proactive and make sure that the final result is a building with the best performance. This type of certification also monitors the construction site management, in order to ensure good health and safety conditions for workers, selective waste management, monitoring and reduction of resource consumption and reduced impact on the environment.

For the existing buildings we used BREEAM In-Use. An initial assessment and an investment plan were made to improve the environmental aspects in the short and medium term. This type of certification is repeated once every 3 years, thus being a very good tool for improving the construction over time.

What measures have you implemented so far?

We have been working with CTP since the end of 2019. We have certified 59 existing buildings and another 9 new buildings. We are currently working on the certification of a recently purchased building and other 8 buildings that are currently under construction, including CTP Clubhouse, the office building with facilities for the CTPark Bucharest West logistic park.

CTPark Bucharest West

Reducing energy consumption is the hot topic, because it provides low operating costs. This is possible through better insulation, LED lighting and energy management. On the other hand, storage spaces that require low temperatures, such as the Profi warehouse in CTPark Bucharest West, or innovative automated storage technologies, such as the one being implemented at the new eMAG logistics warehouse, consume more energy. Transportation is shifting slowly, but surely to electricity. In very large industrial parks it may become difficult to use a significant amount of energy from the grid, and the most convenient solution becomes the production of solar energy. Therefore, the large roof surfaces of the warehouses are the ideal place for photovoltaic parks. The nZEB legislation will also require the use of a minimum of 30% of energy from renewable sources, produced within a maximum radius of 30 km. There will be a demand for locally produced renewable energy. Thus the price of renewable energy will increase, which will tip the balance of cost-benefit analysis in favor of installing photovoltaic panels on roofs.

For now, this return on investment calculation is the only obstacle for the widespread use of solar panels. Net zero targets are also reasons for using solar energy, since it lowers very much the building’s carbon footprint. The CTP buildings built since last year have thee roof structure dimensioned to be able to install photovoltaic panels at any time.

Mobility is another important topic. If a few years ago electric car chargers were hard to sell, now they are the standard features in all projects in which we are involved. Even in logistics parks, electric car chargers are becoming standard equipment.

The public or common space between the buildings is also becoming important. The infrastructure must provide space not only for cars, but also for pedestrians and bicycles. Facilities such as restaurants, commercial spaces, medical offices, sports fields, green spaces, tree planting are also beginning to make their presence felt in logistic parks. The CTP Clubhouse project is almost ready, a facility in the middle of the largest logistics park in Europe, CTPark Bucharest West. This building is surrounded by an orchard of fruit trees and offers all aforementioned facilities to those who work or visit the logistic park.

CTP Clubhouse

What are the sustainability trends in logistics parks?

Supporting CTP’s plan to become zero carbon by the end of this year, we recently started the life cycle assessment for their warehouses, looking at construction and operation processes. We will look at how this carbon footprint can be lowered by changing or adapting some construction solutions, but another good  way for reducing the carbon footprint is by actively planting trees and conserving forest funds.

Mobility, especially using alternative forms of transportation, is another trend. The industrial parks are usually outside the cities or villages, and the employees who work in these spaces (approximately 17,000 people just for CTPark Bucharest West) are forced to travel daily. Most employers offer public transport services by bus or minibus, but an alternative would be to travel by bicycle. In order to make it possible, it’s mandatory to provide adequate and safe cycling infrastructure in industrial parks, but also to work with local and regional public authorities to provide bicycle lanes that connect the logistic parks with the surrounding cities and villages.

Public space must no longer be dominated by cars. The facilities that are starting to appear in the industrial parks, the presence of office buildings among the logistical ones, will favor the pedestrian traffic. Thus, the public space must be generous, welcoming and safe. There should be enough well-marked pedestrian crossings, tree alignments along pedestrian traffic to provide shade during the summer, sitting places and small squares.

Logistics parks usually are using land that previously supported biodiversity. However, this impact on the natural environment, if it cannot be fully recovered, must be reduced. Plantings, even afforestation, are needed around industrial spaces. In the certified projects, nests and feeders for birds and invertebrates are installed. Some buildings have green roofs or climbing plants on some of the facades.

Transport will become electric not only for personal cars, but also for large transportation vehicles. Local production of energy from renewable sources will certainly be needed. The warehouses roofs will be used more and more for energy production.

The carbon footprint is becoming one of the big topics. We are currently calculating this carbon footprint to understand exactly what is the construction impact. The next step will be to adapt construction solutions that produce less CO2, developing in the same time carbon footprint compensation solutions.

NZEB legislation will require an optimization of constructive solutions to reduce energy consumption, increase comfort conditions and produce renewable energy. This legal obligation will certainly raise the construction standards for the entire built environment, and for investors and developers, who usually differentiate themselves from the rest of the market and it will encourage even higher performance.

Developers are competing for green building certifications that target higher and higher results. This is also a motor for allocating more resources and research for sustainable buildings. We are challenged more and more often to support the efforts for designing, building and certifying buildings that target BREEAM’s highest level, Outstanding.

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